How Is the Tea Party Doing During Vote 2010?

Outspoken Tea Party Candidate Christine O'Donnell Loses Senate Bid

Nov. 2, 2010 — -- The more-than-35-candidates backed by the Tea Party movement finally are learning if their fervent campaigning paid off and will land them a seat in Congress, with several of the grassroots organizations' so-called leaders already succeeding in the polls.

Dan Coats is projected to defeat Democratic Rep. Brad Ellsworth in Indiana and in South Carolina, incumbent Sen. Jim DeMint -- branded early on in the campaign season as one of the leaders of the Tea Party movement -- won another term.

In Kentucky, where polling places were among the first in the nation to close, Tea Party favorite Rand Paul was projected to win the Kentucky Senate race, defeating Jack Conway, the state attorney general.

One of the first projected losses of the evening came in Delaware, where the outspoken and often-controversial Tea Party candidate Christine O'Donnell was projected to lose to Democratic opponent Chris Coons, according to ABC News exit-poll projections.

Preliminary exit poll data indicated that nearly 50 percent of voters saw the Tea Party movement unfavorably and fewer than 25 percent saw it favorably.

Preliminary data indicated that more Delaware voters saw the Tea Party movement unfavorably, 45 percent, than favorably, 38 percent. Fewer, 22 percent, saw it strongly favorably.

Voters who felt like the government should be doing more favored Coons by an 86-to-13 percent margin.

Republican Marco Rubio, another Tea Party candidate, also has been projected to win in the race for the U.S. Senate seat in Florida.

According to exit poll analysis, Rubio owed his win partially to conservative voters who turned out in proportionally greater numbers. Also, more than half of voters worse off financially cast their ballot in support of Rubio, who also won among those voters who said their financial situation has remained unchanged.

In her first appearance on Fox News' election coverage tonight, Sarah Palin weighed in on the early victories by Tea Party candidates.

Palin said it's "time for unity" between the Tea Party candidates and the GOP establishment, who should "come together."

"Now is a time for a drive towards unity and I think that it will work, because there is a common mission here with Tea Party Americans and with the GOP establishment," Palin told Fox News' Bret Baier. "The desire is for a smaller, smarter government. It is to rein in the federal government and allow our states more rights and our individuals more rights, ultimately resulting in the private sector being able to grow again.

"Now it's a matter of coming together, the different personalities," Palin added. "There will be, essentially, a few new sheriffs in town so there could be some roughness around the edges when it comes to this team coming together. But it's a time for unity after tonight."

Palin also commented on O'Donnell's defeat, telling Fox News, "Christine's defeat in a deep blue state is not really a surprise but is disappointing for those who wanted to shake it up."

The Tea Party movement shook up the 2010 political landscape, taking down incumbents in Utah and Alaska and defeating the Republican-establishment favorites in Nevada and Delaware during the primary campaign.

Members of the conservative grassroots movement united on elements, like lower taxes, limited government and spending cuts. They have vowed to overturn most of the Obama administration's policies, but also rejected many of those implemented by President George W. Bush.

They wanted to eliminate taxpayer-funded bailouts and were in united opposition of federal funding to save failing banks and the auto industry -- even though the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) was crafted by President Bush's Republican administration in 2008.

Tea Party candidates across the country also vowed to push for a repeal of the new health care law and create a system with little government involvement and a bigger focus on the private sector.

Some Tea Party candidates also view Medicare and Social Security as a liability; Nevada Senate candidate Sharron Angle once suggested that the programs should be phased out and replaced with a private system. Rand Paul, the projected senator-elect in Kentucky, dubbed Medicare "socialized medicine."

Ron Johnson, the Senate candidate in Wisconsin, called Social Security a Ponzi scheme, and Joe Miller, the Republican candidate in Alaska, has said the Social Security program violates the mandates of the Constitution.

ABC News' Huma Khan contributed to this report.

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